addie, designing

Designing Addie

Hey, remember this post from over two years ago? No? That’s ok, I kind of forgot about it, too!

addie cardigan - worn open

I’d intended, back then, to write up a post about the design process for Addie, my first non- self-published pattern, but the week that Twist Collective issue came out was also the week I found out I was pregnant with my dear Madrigal, and, well…life’s been a bit crazy since then, to say the least.

So, where to begin? Perhaps with an even older blog post, the one I wrote about this sweater:

le tour, on the porch

This sweater was the inspiration for the design I proposed to Twist Collective – I’d fallen in love with the short-sleeved gansey idea, and thought it’d be fun to try to do a lacier version in a cardigan, with gansey-inspired eyelet motifs. So that’s what I proposed to Twist collective, and to my surprise and delight, they accepted it!

This was my first time working with a magazine, and despite having self-published a few semi-successful patterns, I basically had no clue what I was doing as a “real designer”. I don’t think I took very good advantage of having such skilled folks to work with at Twist – I didn’t even know what sorts of questions to ask! And I think I ended up biting off a bit more than I could chew very well, in the end…

…which is not to say I’m not proud of the pattern I designed, or that it’s bad. (It’s not! I’d love to see more folks knitting it!) More that it’s something that might’ve been better suited to the sort of “tutorial” style patterns I tend to prefer when I self-publish. If you went back and re-read my post about that lovely purple ganseyette, you might’ve noticed my mention of the “sizing nightmare” that lay in store for me if I wanted to write up a pattern. Well…yep. That was indeed a bit of a nightmare. When each of your motifs is at least an inch wide (and some are as much as 5″ wide), and they need to be mirrored around the center on the front and back, trying to get non-gigantic “steps” in the sizing is crazy.

addie cardigan - back

I think I actually came up with a fairly clever solution to the sizing mess, which was to use different subsets of the set of gansey-inspired eyelet motifs in each size. Lots and lots of math ensured that I could get 3-4″ steps in the sizing, but also made for (I’m afraid) a somewhat confusing pattern, once everything was condensed down into the Twist pattern style. (As you might know, I tend, for better or worse, to favor fairly verbose patterns when I write them to self-publish). The result of this is that no two sizes are actually the same pattern; while this isn’t quite the same as a traditional gansey, where the patterns might be selected to create a unique sweater for a particular individual, I thought it was pretty neat.

How about some detail shots? I’m kind of lucky in that 34″ tends to be a standard sample-size bust-measurement, and ALSO happens to be my size, so the 34″ sample I knit fits me perfectly. I took advantage of that to get some photos of what I think are the coolest gansey-inspired design features of the cardigan.

addie cardigan - vented hem/waist shaping

The cardigan (which is seamlessly knit, in one piece) has a split, overlapping ribbed “welt”, and the overlap turns into a tiny 2st cable that runs up each side “seam”. The eyelet pattern that runs up the sides has waist shaping built in.

addie cardigan - faux gussets!

That tiny cable runs all the way up to my favorite detail – faux gussets! I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with underarm gussets on ganseys, but I guess I just like having fancy armpits. The gussets on Addie are created by splitting that tiny cable open and cabling each arm of it outward while purling the inner stitches. The same thing happens on the inside “seam” of the sleeves.

Speaking of sleeves, they’re seamlessly set in, with the tiniest of “saddle” at the upper shoulder, created using that tiny 2 stitch cable on the outside “seam” of the sleeve:

addie cardigan - sleeve + neckline

The neckline is something of a sweetheart neckline – it’s a rounded v-neck, and there are short rows in the ribbing to add to the shape:

addie cardigan - neckline open

Here it is all buttoned up:

addie cardigan - all buttoned up

The finished knit turned out beautifully. The folks at Twist Collective chose a gorgeous color (which just happens to be pretty much my favorite color, even though I had no role in choosing it!). I originally proposed using Rowan’s Calmer, which is pretty much the only cotton-based yarn my hands/wrists can handle. The Tahki Coast yarn they sent me was lovely, but OMG, it was so hard on my hands to knit. I chose to knit it at a fairly dense gauge, too, which didn’t make it any easier, but I wanted a firm fabric, to keep the eyelets nice and tight and add to the structure of the cardigan (it’s pretty standard to knit ganseys at a very tight gauge, too). Total OUCH, but worth it in the finished product. If I do knit myself another one of these (which I’d like to!), I’ll use Calmer instead.

I still can’t get ganseys out of my head, y’all. I miss my old Tour de Gansey days, and I might try to knit a toddler-sized one for my Madrigal this July, for old time’s sake. We’ll see. It was fun to look back at an old design like this, and I’m planning to give Sullivan the same treatment soon!


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